USS CONSTITUTION -- OLD IRONSIDES -- is the oldest commissioned ship in the U. S.?
USS CONSTITUTION -- OLD IRONSIDES -- is the oldest commissioned ship in the U. S. Navy. Undefeated in the War of 1812 and the War with the Barbary Pirates, she is regarded as our National Ship. A popular tourist spot, Ironsides has been reopened for the Bicentennial after overhaul and renovation in Boston.
Her copper bottom had to be ripped away.Masts, spars and parts of the hull -- replaced. ??? her rigging and fittings had to be copied from old books. Much of the work required hand fitting -- to make Ironsides as sound and as complete today as she was when she launched.
(Sound of sailor striking bell)
Once again, visitors can board the Navy's best-known ship. They are guided by modern sailors in historic uniforms. Tourists explore spaces where Ironsides' original crew of five hundred officers and seamen worked and lived one-hundred-eighty years ago -- in one of the fastest ships then afloat.
Antique swords gleam after careful polishing, reflecting the look of the seventeen-nineties, when Old Ironsides was built. Furnishings, woodwork and armaments have all been restored.
Perhaps it was here, in the junior officers' mess, that the nickname for the CONSTITUTION became part of Navy history. During the War of 1812, sailors dubbed her "Old Ironsides" when British cannonballs reportedly bounced off her oak sides -- as if they were made of iron.
At present, all major repairs have been made on Old Ironsides, but minor preservation work will continue through the Bicentennial.
Launched in 1797, the USS CONSTITUTION is 180 years old. She was never defeated in battle.
Old Ironsides is moored at the National Historical Park site outside of Boston -- and is ready to receive visitors throughout the Bicentennial.